Cold ablation driven by localized forces in alkali halides

Masaki Hada, Dongfang Zhang, Kostyantyn Pichugin, Julian Hirscht, Michał A. Kochman, Stuart A. Hayes, Stephanie Manz, Regis Y N Gengler, Derek A. Wann, Toshio Seki, Gustavo Moriena, Carole A. Morrison, Jiro Matsuo, Germán Sciaini, R. J Dwayne Miller*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Laser ablation has been widely used for a variety of applications. Since the mechanisms for ablation are strongly dependent on the photoexcitation level, so called cold material processing has relied on the use of high-peak-power laser fluences for which nonthermal processes become dominant; often reaching the universal threshold for plasma formation of ∼1 J cm-2 in most solids. Here we show single-shot time-resolved femtosecond electron diffraction, femtosecond optical reflectivity and ion detection experiments to study the evolution of the ablation process that follows femtosecond 400 nm laser excitation in crystalline sodium chloride, caesium iodide and potassium iodide. The phenomenon in this class of materials occurs well below the threshold for plasma formation and even below the melting point. The results reveal fast electronic and localized structural changes that lead to the ejection of particulates and the formation of micron-deep craters, reflecting the very nature of the strong repulsive forces at play.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3863
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 19 May 2014

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